Update and Assessment: March 2, 2016
By The Editors
March 2, 2016
- Al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, conducted two double suicide bombings in three days. The first targeted a Mogadishu hotel on February 26 and the second targeted a restaurant in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region on February 28. The attacks were directed against military and government officials that frequented the targeted locations. Al Shabaab is increasing the operational tempo of its spectacular attacks and demonstrated the ability to do so across multiple cities.
- The Libyan National Army (LNA) cleared several neighborhoods of al Qaeda- and ISIS-linked militants in Benghazi, but it will struggle to retain its gains and establish control over the city. The LNA’s “Blood of the Martyrs” Operation, reportedly supported by French advisers, is one of its most successful since the start of Operation Dignity in May 2014. However, Salafi-jihadi groups have well-established networks in Benghazi and will resist the LNA’s efforts to regain control over the city.
- Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government are accusing Lebanese Hezbollah of providing support to the al Houthi movement. The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Hezbollah operatives in November 2015 for providing materiel support to the al Houthis, and members of the al Houthi leadership have met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Saudi Arabia is a primary backer of the Hadi government. Saudi officials have also been levying accusations against Hezbollah, and Saudi Arabia recently cut assistance to Lebanon. The timing of these indications is likely to be driven by regional developments rather than internal Yemeni developments.